Sunday, November 21, 2010

Let's Make a Deal?

North Korea is making progress towards the enrichment route to nuclear weapons?

North Korea's claim of a new, highly sophisticated uranium enrichment facility could be a ploy to win concessions in nuclear talks or an attempt to bolster leader Kim Jong Il's apparent heir.

But whatever the reason for the revelation, which a seasoned American nuclear scientist called "stunning," it provides a new set of worries for the Obama administration, which is sending its special envoy on North Korea for talks with officials in South Korea, Japan and China this week.

Why would North Korea allow this visit to a secret nuclear site if they are forging ahead to make nukes with it?

I personally think that North Korea is slowly collapsing. I'll guess that North Korea is trying to scare the West into opening up the floodgates of cash and food to restart negotiations to stop this program.

In the end, North Korea will accept the goodies to put off the day of their collapse and fail to halt this route to nuclear weapons, daring the West to do anything about it.

Squeeze Pyongyang until they die.

UPDATE: Our special envoy to North Korea says we knew about this:

"This is obviously a disappointing announcement. It is also another in a series of provocative moves" by North Korea, Bosworth said. "That being said, this is not a crisis. We are not surprised by this. We have been watching and analyzing the (North's) aspirations to produce enriched uranium for some time."

So this announcement was theater. Who the audience is remains unclear. Is it the West to gain concessions? Is it internal and related to the power succession?

UPDATE: If North Korea is trying to get our attention with this announcement, this one should get China's attention:

South Korea might request to again host U.S. tactical nuclear weapons, the Financial Times reported today (see GSN, April 21).

Defense Minister Kim Tae-young discussed the matter today with South Korean lawmakers following reports that Pyongyang had allowed a U.S. scientist to view a previously secret uranium enrichment facility (see related GSN story, today).

Not that any decision let alone deployment is imminent, but the South Koreans have made a point. Are you having fun now, Peking?

UPDATE: No deal for the Pillsbury Nuke Boy:

The United States said Monday that North Korea will derive no benefit from world powers for the apparent uranium enrichment program it revealed to an American scientist earlier this month.

The only solution is to destroy the regime. The risk is that we can't contain the collapse short of war. But with these nutballs pursuing nuckear missiles, what choice do we have but to squeeze them until they die?

UPDATE: They really are playing with fire up north:

North Korea and South Korea have reportedly traded artillery fire Nov. 23 across the disputed Northern Limit Line (NLL) in the Yellow Sea to the west of the peninsula. Though details are still sketchy, South Korean news reports indicate that around 2:30 p.m. local time, North Korean artillery shells began landing in the waters around Yeonpyeongdo, one of the South Korean-controlled islands just south of the NLL. North Korea has reportedly fired as many as 200 rounds, some of which struck the island, injuring at least 10 South Korean soldiers, damaging buildings and setting fire to a mountainside. South Korea responded by firing some 80 shells of its own toward North Korea, dispatching F-16 fighter jets to the area and raising the military alert to its highest level. 

I expect that the South Koreans will respond with a more deliberate military retaliation. They stayed quiet after North Korea sank their corvette Cheonan. This new attack comes too soon after that for the Seoul government to just absorb the blow and move on.
Perhaps a big alpha strike on the North Korean coastal artillery positions will be carried out. It would come from the sea using stand-off precision weapons with lots of fighter aircraft in support, and have the advantage that if any plane is hit, it will go down at sea at worst where the pilot can be rescued rather than captured by North Korean forces.